Accreditation scheme needed to combat E coli

An investigation into the 2009 E coli 0157 outbreak has called for an industry-led accreditation scheme among its criticisms and recommendations for open farms.

The outbreak which began last August at a farm in Godstone, Surrey, grew to be the largest-ever.

More than 90 people, 76 of them children, were struck down by the potentially fatal disease.

The report into the outbreak was led by infectious disease expert George Griffin from the University of London.

The accreditation scheme would be voluntary and based on a code of practice to be drawn up by the industry, Prof Griffin recommended.

Prof Griffin also concluded that the farm at the centre of the outbreak did not have in place an adequate risk assessment as it primarily relied on visitors washing their hands.

And he suggested all children’s farms needed to do more to minimise the risk of visitors coming into contact with animal dung.

The greatest criticism was reserved for the health bodies which should have acted more quickly to contain the disease.

The farm was not closed until a month after the first case during which time 10s of thousands of people visited the attraction.

Prof Griffin was scathing of the Health Protection Agency team which had “shown a lack of leadership” when it failed to act even though team members knew a cluster of E coli cases had emerged.

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